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© Manuela Lalic, Happy End, 2012. Chariot usagé, objets décoratifs en plastique | Used caddy, decorative plastic objects. 90 x 75 x 65 cm. Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste | Courtesy of the artist.

Manuela Lalic
From January 19th 2013 to February 23rd 2013
Activisme timide

Manuela Lalic’s installations present themselves as spaces of excess, marked by a practice of overabundance that nonetheless conceals minimalist concerns. Without saturating the spaces they invest (but contaminating them considerably), these interventions establish a series of associations that borrow elements drawn from the inexhaustible font of consumer society.

Generally stripped of their initial function, the sundry elements the artist reactivates seem to be chosen for their formal qualities and the suggestive power of their seductive and unexpected combinations. This “shock of the heterogeneous”(1) is symptomatic of an approach that aims to reveal the poetic potential of everyday reality. While critical, the organic and quasi scientific micro-actions the artist brings into play offer various narratives punctuated by a hierarchical arrangement of spatial elements and a mock dichotomy between nature and culture.

Her polymorphic production reveals the artist’s propensity for excess, embodied in the transitory chaos of a functionalist breakdown. As with the arrangement of motifs, it is also suggested by the unstable and formless volumes that recur in the artist’s installations. Twisted paperclips, present in some of her works since 1998, also figure in the one shown at Optica, where they are scattered over a denuded area. For Lalic, this shapeless mass acts upon the ambivalent observation of time lost, as suggested by the repetitive and mechanical gesture of its construction. In this failed action, she sees a metaphor for collective momentum concentrated in solitary obstinacy. This process recalls the principle of loss, “which must be as great as possible for the activity to gain its true meaning.”(2) As unproductive as the gesture may seem, the energy thus expended testifies to a desire for commitment that averts inertia. Comparable to an ice floe, the surface to which the hotchpotch structure clings grows organically while accentuating the idleness.

Indubitably ironic, Lalic’s “timid activism” turns out to be the caricature of a glacial landscape confronted with an array of oddities, all of it masking a critique of a society that constantly tends to prefabricate and standardize every aspect of our existence.

Alexandre Poulin

1. Jacques Rancière, Malaise dans l’esthétique (Paris, Galilée: 2004).
2. Georges Bataille, La part maudite [1967] précédée de La notion de dépense [1949] (Paris: Les éditions de minuit, 2011), 24.

The artist thanks the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

"Activisme timide" is briefly mentioned and recommended in an article by Nicolas Mavrikakis, Pistes hivernales ( Voir, January 10th 2013).

Manuela Lalic's "Activisme timide" exhibition, presented at OPTICA from January 19th to February 23th, is the focus of a several published articles one by Jérôme Delgado, Fragiles monuments de petits riens (Le Devoir, Saturday, February 9 2013), by Daniella E. Sanader, Manuela Lalic : Activisme timide (C Magazine, numéro 118, été 2013), by Catherine Martel, Dialogue créatif avec Manuela Lalic (Querelles, July 10th 2013) et de Cynthia Girard, Patate indécise dans l'atelier de Manuela Lalic (Espace Sculpture, no. 105, Fall 2013). It is also possible to listen to the radio interview with Chantal l'Heureux broadcasted during the In situ radio show, aired on CIBL, February 17th. Listen to Manuela Lalic's interview (In situ, February 17th 2013).

Originally from France, Manuela Lalic obtained an MFA from Université du Québec à Montréal (2000). Powerhouse Award finalist in 2012, she was awarded the Pratt and Whitney Canada Prize in 2009 and has presented her work in Canada, the United States, France, Germany, Lebanon, Japan, China and, more recently, Serbia.